|The time is now to start the process for filing new H-1B applications for workers who you hope to move to H-1B status. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B quota-subject filings on April 1, 2019, so employers should start preparing these petitions right away.
USCIS is only required to accept applications for five business days, so petitions must be submitted during the first few days of April. If USCIS receives more applications than the cap number during the first five days of April (which it has every year since 2013), it will cease accepting applications on the fifth day.
New Changes for 2019
New H-1B petitions are capped at 65,000 for employees with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with an additional 20,000 spots for employees with advanced degrees (master’s degree or higher). When more petitions are submitted than there are spots available, a lottery is performed to select those applicants whose petitions will be considered. Earlier this month, USCIS unveiled new regulations that are aimed at increasing the number of individuals with advanced degrees who win spots through the lottery. Individuals with advanced degrees will get to participate in the general lottery (65,000 spots) first. Those who do not get a spot in the general lottery will get a second chance when the advanced degree lottery (20,000 spots) is run. This is a reversal of the order in which the lottery has previously been conducted.
New Application Process in 2020
In addition to the new regulations for the April 1, 2019, filing date, USCIS announced a new application system that will take effect for the lottery held in 2020. In 2020, workers subject to the 65,000 Visa cap (as well as others with advanced degrees who are exempt) will fill out a streamlined form (rather than submitting a full petition to USCIS). Only those selected by the lottery will be required to complete a full H-1B petition. The goal is to streamline the application process, and it could potentially save employers money since they will only need to file a full petition if their worker is selected in the lottery. It should also create a more efficient system by eliminating the need for USCIS to compile and return hundreds of thousands of petitions that were not selected in the lottery.
Once again, now is the time to begin preparing your H-1B applications. If you have questions, please contact Mary P. Snyder or Lauren K. Clifton or another member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group.